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Chamber Music - Released September 28, 2018 | Alpha

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"The harpsichord is perfect as to it compass, and brilliant in itself, but as it is impossible to swell out or diminish the volume of its sound, I shall always feel grateful to any who, by the exercise of infinite art supported by fine taste, contrive to render this instrument capable of expression", writes Couperin himself in the foreword to his 1713 Premier livre de pièces de clavecin. If we discount the ornamentations which litter the world, Couperin's music is not a "virtuoso" music, as Scarlatti's can be, for example. Sometimes taking on a descriptive style, or going in for imitation or portrait, it requires a singular sense of expression: that very "expression" that the composer talks about here. In Art de toucher le clavecin, Couperin offers us precious information on how to interpret and play his music in particular, and French music of the period in general; an artist who aims to respect Couperin's intentions will find indispensable lessons here. That being said, a fear of stepping outside the bounds set by the author, and a too-minute attention to every detail could rob the works of their vitality and fluency. "As there is a great distance from grammar to declamation, so there is an infinitely greater one between the tablature and good playing style." Or, in other words, freedom within limits! That is the attitude that Olivier Fortin brings to this fine range of works from the great Couperin, drawn from various of his Livres de clavecin and L’Art de toucher le clavecin. As for the instrument being played, it is a "real fake", made in 1984 by the manufacturer Martin Skowroneck based on a Hemsch (that is, 18th century French), but signed with the name of the Rouen artistan Nicholas Lefebvre, none of whose instruments survive to the present day, and which was built in 1755. Skowroneck's aim was to prove to Gustav Leonhardt that it was still possible to build a harpsichord that was perfectly identical to one of the old style, and it seems that Leonhardt was taken with his attempt. Even the material's ageing was completely artificial! But it is no less of a splendid instrument for all that, and moreover, splendidly recorded, which is not all that common in the harpsichord repertoire. © SM/Qobuz
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Classical - Released January 24, 2020 | Alpha

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The practice of composing for two keyboard instruments, very common in the illustrious Bach family, naturally achieved its apotheosis with Johann Sebastian, whose three concertos for two harpsichords are performed here by Olivier Fortin and Emmanuel Frankenberg with the Ensemble Masques. These works, particularly the Concerto in C minor, are among the composer’s most admired. They suggest a conception of the concerto specific to Bach: rather than a dialogue between several individual entities, the piece presents a subtle intertwining of melodic lines and blurs the distinction between solo and tutti parts by making them respond to and quote each other, thus illustrating the principle of harmony dear to the composer. Finally, the recording on two harpsichords of the Prelude and Fugue BWV 552, originally composed for organ, is in keeping with the nineteenth-century tradition of transposing Bach’s works with the aim of giving their refined polyphony greater clarity. © Naxos
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Classical - Released September 28, 2018 | Alpha Classics

Hi-Res Booklet
"The harpsichord is perfect as to it compass, and brilliant in itself, but as it is impossible to swell out or diminish the volume of its sound, I shall always feel grateful to any who, by the exercise of infinite art supported by fine taste, contrive to render this instrument capable of expression", writes Couperin himself in the foreword to his 1713 Premier livre de pièces de clavecin. If we discount the ornamentations which litter the world, Couperin's music is not a "virtuoso" music, as Scarlatti's can be, for example. Sometimes taking on a descriptive style, or going in for imitation or portrait, it requires a singular sense of expression: that very "expression" that the composer talks about here. In Art de toucher le clavecin, Couperin offers us precious information on how to interpret and play his music in particular, and French music of the period in general; an artist who aims to respect Couperin's intentions will find indispensable lessons here. That being said, a fear of stepping outside the bounds set by the author, and a too-minute attention to every detail could rob the works of their vitality and fluency. "As there is a great distance from grammar to declamation, so there is an infinitely greater one between the tablature and good playing style." Or, in other words, freedom within limits! That is the attitude that Olivier Fortin brings to this fine range of works from the great Couperin, drawn from various of his Livres de clavecin and L’Art de toucher le clavecin. As for the instrument being played, it is a "real fake", made in 1984 by the manufacturer Martin Skowroneck based on a Hemsch (that is, 18th century French), but signed with the name of the Rouen artistan Nicholas Lefebvre, none of whose instruments survive to the present day, and which was built in 1755. Skowroneck's aim was to prove to Gustav Leonhardt that it was still possible to build a harpsichord that was perfectly identical to one of the old style, and it seems that Leonhardt was taken with his attempt. Even the material's ageing was completely artificial! But it is no less of a splendid instrument for all that, and moreover, splendidly recorded, which is not all that common in the harpsichord repertoire. © SM/Qobuz